Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik

News | 7 days ago | Zukic
The Yamal Peninsula in north-west Siberia is covered with permafrost and although winters there are very cold, summers happen to be quite warm, at least as when speaking of Siberian standards. So, when in the middle of the 20th century a fish processing factory was built nearby, a cold store was needed. Fish caught in Arctic waters could be stored during the summer before they were processed, packaged and exported to Western Europe.

The processing plant was situated in Novy Port at the mouth of the Ob River. The village developed in the 1920s as a temporary port where ships crossing the North Sea Route could stop and get supplied. After the fish processing plant was established, fisheries became the main industry in the town of Novy Port.
Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik
 
In the 1940s and 1950s, a giant labyrinth of underground tunnels was dug in the permafrost ground. Naturally cooled tunnels with frozen ground were to be a cold store for Novy Port. The facility known as Merzlotnik and the Novy Port warehouse were named the biggest natural refrigerator in the world.

These tunnels stretch there for more than a kilometer and they have around 200 small side tunnels and caves where fish are stored. The average temperature in the center is around -12 degrees Celsius for the whole year. The area has 7,000 square meters. Total capacity of it is about 2,000 tons of fish.


Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik
 
The tunnels were carved in hard, frozen ground by slavishly working people, forcedly sent to Siberia during Stalin's times. It took ten years of pecking in permafrost with pickaxes and other hand tools to make such tunnels at last.

Fishing isn't the main industry in Novy Port anymore. After discovering oil and gas in the Yamal peninsula, Novy Port quickly changed to the crude oil export. However, the cold store works till today. In 2008, this unusual complex received the status of a monument of the Yamal peninsula regional significance.


Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik


Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik



Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik


Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik



Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik


Natural cold storage chamber in Siberia - Merzlotnik